West Kelowna erupted against Coquitlam on Friday.
It was a comprehensive win over a speedy but overmatched Express group, and gave fans one more reason to feel good about the upgraded West Kelowna roster.
Matt Anholt broke the ice on the first shot of the game, though he wasn’t even trying to shoot. With Tyson Dallman charging the goal-mouth, the Warriors captain threw a centring feed that bounced off Anthony Gardner’s skate and in, for a lucky lead less than two minutes in.
But the Anholt goal was just the tremor, and the volcano was starting to spew. Seb Lloyd made it 2-0 with a subtle deflection on a Ryan Ivey blast 1:15 later. Then David Pope shelfed one 48 seconds after that, giving the hosts a 3-0 lead less than four minutes in. The 4th line hadn’t even had a shift yet, and the game seemed pretty much over. It effectively was.
Coquitlam would improve as the period wore on, and the Express did show much better in the second period and late in the third. Overall though, Coquitlam didn’t get many pucks deep and it never stayed in the Warriors’ end for more than 10-15 seconds.
Coquitlam would score twice in the game, both on Andy Desautels (who left in the second intermission). Marc Biega converted his own rebound late in the first, while Canon Pieper scored a very impressive solo effort in the second. The Express did a great job on the penalty-kill, but never really had much offensive traction all night other than the two goals. Credit a stingy West Kelowna system for that, I guess.
Ryan Fraser-Lee scored his first as a Warrior late in the first period when he fired a point-shot with eyes past Gordie Defiel. Braden Pears finished off a lovely odd-man rush when he ripped one post-and-in late in the second. A sharp-angled softy from Adam Osczevski and a second from David Pope gave the Warriors more than enough offence and a feel-good night for the entire club.
It’s always nice to win when new guys are in the lineup, but even better when they contribute. And this really was a strong depth showing from West K. All four lines contributed at least one goal, and both new blueliners also scored.
Three Warriors went down in this game, but the rest of the club stepped up and filled any gaps efficiently. Cody Porter stopped all 9 shots he faced in the third. Nathan Craft showed that (as advertised) he can step up to a scoring line when Jordan Masters couldn’t continue. Kylar Hope was knocked out of the game in the first period. Adam Plant played most of the third period as a forward. Nothing seemed to matter though, as the Warriors kept on dictating play and controlling the puck.
I liked both Ryan Fraser-Lee and Braden Pears on the back end, and I think fans should be pretty excited about this defensive corps now. You couldn’t tell that it was Fraser-Lee’s first game back from injury, while Braden Pears is every bit the horse he was in Trail and Salmon Arm.
The Warriors have now won 8 of 10, heading into big matchups against Penticton and Vernon.
* Injuries? All three (Desautels, Masters, Hope) are being called upper-body injuries, and I get the sense that all three should return at some point next week.
***Highlights courtesy Crosswood Productions.